Another application has been filed to build a new hotel in Stanley. Jennifer Lee reports
A developer has re-submitted an application to build a boutique hotel at 78-79 Stanley Main Street.
This latest submission follows an application made by the same company Rostar Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of Eton Properties, last September. Southside Magazine reported on the first application in November 2016. “In considering the growing demand of hotel accommodation and shop and services in the Stanley area,” the latest application reads, “the applicant intends to make better use of the site and to upgrade the local environment through the provision of a boutique hotel development with associated pedestrian facilities at the site. The current proposed scheme is an eight-storey hotel with 30 guest rooms”. To this end, the developer is seeking a minor relaxation of the height restriction, increasing it from 21m to 25.2m.
The application states that, “the site has long been occupied by single-storey structures for retail use since the 1970s”. Specifically, it was previously home to the Apple Mall, which housed a variety of shops selling everything from curtains to children’s apparel. It closed in 2014 following a 50 percent increase in government fees. Currently, according to local campaigner and Stanley resident Maxine Yao, the site is blocked off and surrounded by wooden boards.
“The proposed hotel development,” the application continues, “is in line with the government’s policy to promote tourism and will enhance Stanley as a popular suburban tourist town in Hong Kong. It is also in line with the planning objectives to improve pedestrian circulation along Stanley Market Road”.
However, not everyone agrees. Yao points out several issues with the developer’s plan. “The new plans by the developer encroach on the pedestrian area,” she says, “whereas the original plans didn’t. If they do this, the pavement will be narrower than it already is when we should be widening it”. She also raises concerns about the possibility of construction work on the pedestrianised area causing potential damage to a well-known banyan tree nearby on Stanley Main Street, whose roots are partly entangled in a WWII bunker beside the pavement.
The banyan has been given the classification OVT (old valuable tree) by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. “It’s a very significant tree in Stanley,” Yao explains. “There’s a flower shop under the tree, so in Cantonese we call it ‘the flower shop tree’. We want to preserve and protect it.”
According to Marianne Yeo, long-time Stanley resident who speaks for other concerned locals, this old tree will need to have at least three major branches, which comprises almost half of its crown, removed to make way for the hotel construction. She also adds that this is “likely to destablise the tree roots which will already be weakened by construction tremors”.
While the developer’s plan says “the proposal can serve as a catalyst for townscape upgrading and will improve the pedestrianisation of the Stanley Market area”, many residents take a different view. “A lot of residents agree it will turn the area into Tin Wan, which has two boutique hotels owned by Eton Properties,” says Yao. “We already have a boutique hotel near Wong Ma Kok Road. If they build here too, thousands of visitors will come and block the whole road. When I posted about the plan on social media, most people opposed it—only a few merchants and district councillors support it.”
Yao points out that district councillor for Stanley and Shek O Ms Chan Yee Pui-ying and her husband, in fact, own four properties located close to the proposed hotel on Stanley Main Street. “The value of her shop will go up,” Yao explains, “so naturally she would support the development.”
However, the district councillor replied to Southside Magazine claiming that she neither supports nor opposes the development as the views of Stanley’s residents are her own as well, and says that the boutique hotel will not benefit her in any way.
The plan can be viewed and commented on by the public at: info.gov.hk/tpb